This introductory chapter summarises the nature of discussions and themes prevalent in the book. It discusses first the terms ‘young people’ and ‘risk’ which are the dominant themes in the book. In this introduction and the book, young people refer to the children under 18 years old and young adults in their 20s. While the focus is on the children and young people in the youth justice system, the gradual transition from childhood to adulthood is considered as well. The notion of risk in relation to young people is also clarified in this chapter. It specifically looks at the three different perspectives of the concept of risk. First, it examines the risk that young people who have been victims and perpetrators of crimes pose to themselves and how this manifest itself in violent behaviour and different types of mental health disorders. Second, it examines the risk that young people who commit serious crimes pose to the public and how agencies who work with them produced and developed assessment tools, practices and procedures to support them. Finally, it examines the early identification of children who exhibit risk factors that are believed to be linked to the possibility of future serious offending and the need for preventive interventions.
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